To my great relief, Dino was in a MUCH better mood on Monday afternoon! The day off on Sunday did wonders, and I'm sure he was happy to be back working in his big open field all by himself.
My only goal for the ride was to do a Pre-Flight Check and make sure all of my controls were working and that I could achieve a forward, round, compliant pony at all three gaits. Dino was awesome at the walk - very soft in the bridle, responsive to my leg, and easy to bend and get him to carry himself. In the trot he started out heavy, especially to the right. I'd get him in a lovely, light walk and then ask for the trot and he'd carry himself for a few strides, and then dive into my hand.
Not an option, sir!
So I went right for the Magic Circle and LOTS of transitions to enforce the idea of EuroPony using his butt properly, which definitely helped. Soon he was trotting around on the bit, changing bend easily, and generally being a nice little dressage pony.
I started the canter work earlier in the ride than I normally do, my thought being that I really wanted to reinforce the Go Button. I let Dino canter around the entire field on a loose rein with me in half seat so he could get GOING! He quite enjoyed that part, and I think for a moment he thought we were going to do conditioning sets. But the wide-open canter did its job to get him thinking forward, and when I brought him back down for a walk break Dino started offering trot when I put my leg on to ask him to bring his back up. Good pony!
The on-the-bit-proper-dressage-canter work was pretty gross to start out with, though. Dino flung his head up in the depart, and was a little resistant to dropping his head and lifting his back. Again, Magic Circle and Lots 'O Transitions came to the rescue! Any time we went in a straight line, I also made sure to ride a little shoulder-fore to keep his hind end engaged. The more transitions I practiced the better Dino's canter got, and I realized that if I think about moving his haunches IN in canter, his balance and self-carriage improves a ton. It's more about shaping the bend with my outside leg than an actual haunches-in, but it works! Dino did some GREAT work on his trickier right lead, and I ended the ride when he gave me an AWESOME trot-halt transition.
We cooled out with a little walk through the woods with Dino taking the lead as a reward for dressage well done. I think we're ready for our tests tonight!